Monday, 3 August 2015

MA-Ness Term 3 Week 16 - Interim End In Sight, Playing With Cameras, Glossing, Abstracts, Reading, Happy Accidents, Photography, Language and New Favourite Cemetery

one of the books I'm reading at the moment - wonderful - on loan from Headingley Library
this weeks post it notes - on the left list of things to include on blog and on right notes to add to term overview for portfolio hand in

on left corrupted file when I first tried to print out image on right - a happy accident as I prefer the corrupted copy (close up of sign on bridge on railway in Midlands
image taken on my crappy kids digital camera which cost £6.99 through lens of medium format fancy camera borrowed from college which even secondhand would cost around a hundred times as much....pic is of husband taking pinhole picture of me on an adapted 1950's medium format camera with penny as lens cover - taken in St Matthews Cemetery Chapel Allerton -
skull blogwriters own.

Have had a busy week of writing - am in middle of writing up a term overview for portfolio hand in for the end of the first year of this masters malarkey. It's been interesting to look back over the last few months and see how my working practices have changed, what I've learnt, what I'd forgotten I'd been to or read, the things I'm really pleased with, the things I'm not so pleased with and the things I have still to work on. I have also made a start in physically putting my portfolio together - last time it was in a red lever arch file - this time it's in a black one. This time I think it will also include work pieces both bigger than A4 and a lot smaller than A4 and in different formats.

It's (almost) fun putting it together - but the fear of not jumping academic hoops high enough is also there....fingers crossed my work will be deemed to have met and fulfilled the learning outcomes, but I'm not sure when I'll find out if it has or not, hand in date is 14th August though so fingers crossed it won't be too long after that. Think term restarts the second week in September so it's not a long break as such, but I hope to have some down time in that time too. I am absolutely loving doing what I'm doing and it currently occupies almost 80% of my time and almost 90% of my thoughts.....don't know what I'm going to do when it finishes....need to crack on with research plans for practice based phds.....

But have also had a busy week of doing too  - have done a load more printing at college or rather the nice man who lives in the basement print room did £6.70's worth of A4 prints on tracing paper for me. Including the one above of the railway bridge sign. I took the picture partly because I was looking for something to do whilst waiting for the train and also because the sign made me feel nostalgic as it is written in the same typeface as the ones I often used to see when I was little whilst waiting for the train to go to Altrincham Market.  These trips with my grandparents usually involved a treat from the toy stall - if I got a doll my Nana would then crochet it an outfit whilst watching the wrestling later on that afternoon, and it always ended with a lunchtime trip to the chippy for sit down treat of fish and chips and if I was really lucky a can of Tizer. Aah happy memories.

Anyway as you can see it didn't print out correctly at first - the file corrupted but I prefer the corrupted version to the correctly printed out version (which was a digital image that I cropped and took the colour out of) but other than taking a picture of the corrupted version or photocopying it I have no way of exactly reproducing it.  Oh well. I am still continuing my experiments with the degeneration of colour and quality in photocopying. I love the way the image distorts - especially in colour.

I've also been taking lots of pictures - some straightforward pictures of the things already there and some including the lovely silver skull I bought some time ago from TK Maxx (and I still wish I'd bought the other one that was there at the time - though at the time I couldn't really afford it) and it was a new location and on three different cameras.

The location was St Matthews Cemetery in Chapel Allerton which was closed as a cemetery by the council in 1974. It seems it was active as a churchyard for a long time before the church was deemed too small and no longer fit for purpose. The current St Matthews was built on Wood Road in the late 1890's though the original church still held funerals until it was demolished in 1935. It's in nowhere near as manicured and easy to get round state as St George's Fields is but it has some beautiful examples of victorian tombstone sculpture and I suspect I shall be going again often - especially in winter when some of the grasses will have died back and the dog pooh will be easier to spot and so avoid on the ground.

I've occasionally walked through and often waited at the bus stop just next to the War Memorial which stands at its entrance on Harrogate Road. I'd never really looked at any of the memorials in it closely though and there are some truly gorgeous ones there, bits of it are very overgrown and tumbledown and bits of it aren't. I came home covered in bits of grass seeds, got scratched by a briar and stung by nettles and also had the excitement of somewhat illicitly climbing a very rusty looking fire escape to take a picture but it was worth it - there are some stunning monuments there and I got some pictures I am really pleased with.

I used 3 cameras - the new (to me but actually from 1990) Minolta Dynax 7000i very generously given me by a chum for my birthday in which I used black and white film and poundshop colour film, the very fancy indeed Mamiya 645 Pro in which I used  120 b+w and my crappy kiddies digital camera which takes warped colour-ish images. I also remembered to wear something with pockets - v handy indeed for lens caps, small kids crap cameras and the like and though I forgot to take blu tack I did remember to take the little blue folding step and my husband very generously agreed to be my assistant too and he helped with the tripod, passing me things and keeping an eye on the bags. He also helped by developing the b+w films later that afternoon and I scanned them in once they'd dried. He also took some pinhole pictures with a lens cover made out of a penny - a nice touch for a graveyard shoot methinks as it has echoes of the ferryman myth and of course the use of pennies to weight down corpse eyelids.

I got a bit flustered using the tripod as I can never remember which way you turn things to make them loosen/tighten but as I wasn't in a rush that didn't matter so much. Plus we weren't in anyone's way or trespassing (though I did sneak up an overlooking fire escape to take some shots - but it wasn't locked off or anything so not really trespassing as such) so I had the time and space to sort it out at my own pace.

The tripod was needed as it wasn't very bright yesterday and I knew some of the shots would be under trees and so long exposures would be needed - not very long but longer than I could keep the camera absolutely still and so avoid blurring on the shots. I could have pushed the film but as that would have made it look very grainy and grainy wasn't the look I was going for I decided not to.

So any blurring would be because I failed to focus the shots adequately as opposed to camera shake. I did things like take the same shots with the different cameras so I could compare and contrast between each camera. And after a while I remembered that I could vary the depth of the shot with one of the lenses I was using too - doh!! I haven't used it very often recently as I've mostly been using my nifty fifty mm lens as it's light, small and does the job I need it too so I can forgive myself that I had forgotten this as I am so used to just focusing...oh well. I also enjoyed positioning the lovely silver skull in different places.

I'm pleased with the pictures overall and some of them I am really pleased with, and some of them will be getting printed on A4 tracing paper as soon as the print room reopens,  but the camera I most enjoyed using - is technically the worst.

Yep - the crap kiddies digital camera, it's such fun to use, plus it's light, fits in my pocket easily, and most of all I am absolutely loving the lomo warped colour aberrant pics it produces. I am also loving the pictures I get with the other much better cameras - but for ease and fun of use, the crap kiddies digital wins hand down. I think the fun I have with it reflects in the pictures it produces too - the pictures from the other 'proper' cameras look ever so much more serious in comparison.

I've also been doing some glossing this week - glossing of images I've made and transferred onto canvas using matte medium and last week I emailed off my first abstract for an academic conference hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University's Centre for Gothic Studies. I think my work qualifies as gothic I am chancing it a bit as it is really a literature conference so I won't be surprised if they say thanks but no, but I'm still working on the 'a no is free' approach plus it was good practice to write an abstract. If I do get offered the chance to present you'll hear squeals of both terror and delight....which is a good way to describe gothic too really.....

I took advantage of the powercuts we had last week (now hopefully fixed) by using the lack of tinternet access (much to the power companies surprise when I rang to find out what was going on - they advised me I could look it up on my smartphone or tablet - neither of which devices I possess, or rather my husband does have a tablet but it works off the wifi and their reaction was very much one of shock and how on earth do I manage without such very well thank you as long as there isn't a power cut) to catch up on some reading - as the pile of unread (mostly text) books to my right continues to taunt me. Think I'm going to have to factor in reading time on my to-do list or else they are going to remain unread. I must also make time to reread the notes I've made too.

I am however managing to read Lady Audley's Secret - which is wonderful and last night I dipped into the beginning of East Lynne by Ellen Wood - another victorian sensation novel which was published in 1861. Tis wonderfully evocative and stirring stuff, no wonder an Archbishop of the time warned of the dangers of such books. It seems they caused a similar so called moral outrage that video nasties did in the 80's but it is very lovely to read a genuinely contemporary victorian novel and that fact that Lady Audley's Secret and East Lynne are written by women is an added bonus. Plus East Lynne is such a gorgeous book - bound in red, and seemingly bought by Leeds Reference Library in 1943. According to the plate on the back it's been borrowed 6 times - in 1969, 1981, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011 and now me - it seems a rattling good yarn so don't know why its not more popular but hey ho.

The other book I am reading and which I quoted from last blog post is City Boy My Life in New York During the 1960s and 1970s by Edmund White and bits of it are really resonating with me - this paragraph for instance in which he is talking about what Paul Valery called the 'delirious professions'  'those professions that depend on self assurance and the opinions of others rather than certifiable skills. The delirious professions, I'd hazard, comprise literature, criticism, design, the visual arts, acting....the delirious professions having no agreed upon standards, require introductions and alliances, protectors and patrons, famous teachers or acclaim by someone reputed. In short they depend upon that most mercurial of all possessions: reputation'.  
Lots and lots of food for thought there......he also goes on to mention the writers and philosophers his milieu of writers, critics and art patrons were reading in the 1960's - Lacan, Deleuze, Foucault, Barthes, Derrida and Levi-Strauss.  Names familiar to me though aside from Barthes I haven't read anything by them - but I have read a lot of things about them.

The other thing which gave me a lot of food for thought this week was the Radio 4 programme No Triumph No Tragedy which last week featured an interview with Giles Duley which you can listen to here and see examples of Greg's photographic work here. His identifying as a photographer shines through and kept him going when he was injured in Afghanistan. He talks of the way he uses his work to tell stories - currently those of victims of war. He said photography acts as a passport and portal into others lives and that a good photograph isn't taken but given, a result of a two way relationship between the photographer and the sitter. He also talked of the patience needed by a photographer and how restrictions can lead to creativity. It's well worth a listen - inspiring thought provoking stuff.

So now I'd best crack on with portfolio putting together..... 



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